Saturday, April 01, 2006
April Prayer Intentions  


General - That the individual, social and political rights of women may be respected in every nation.
In other words, it is ultimately unjust and sinful to deny the differences between men and women or to view women as equal to men only in so far as they perform the same roles and work. Women have a unique contribution to make to the Church and the world and this does not depend upon their being like men. This teaching of the Church is not popular in a world that sees equality as sameness. The Holy Father concludes his letter with words that remind us of the importance of our role as Apostles of Prayer. The rights of women will only be respected in so far as there is a conversion of heart. And this requires prayer:

In Jesus Christ all things have been made new (Revelation 21:5). Renewal in grace, however, cannot take place without conversion of heart. Gazing at Jesus and confessing him as Lord means recognizing the path of love, triumphant over sin, which he sets out for his disciples. In this way, man's relationship with woman is transformed…. The witness of women's lives must be received with respect and appreciation, as revealing those values without which humanity would be closed in self-sufficiency, dreams of power and the drama of violence. Women too, for their part, need to follow the path of conversion and recognize the unique values and great capacity for loving others which their femininity bears. In both cases, it is a question of humanity's conversion to God…. Such a conversion cannot take place without humble prayer to God for that penetrating gaze which is able to recognize one's own sin and also the grace which heals it. In a particular way, we need to ask this of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the woman in accord with the heart of God, she who is "blessed among women" (Luke 1:42), chosen to reveal to men and women the way of love. Only in this way, can the "image of God", the sacred likeness inscribed in every man and woman, emerge according to the specific grace received by each. ("On the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World", 17)
Missionary - That Church in China may carry out its evangelizing mission with serenity and in full freedom.
Presently it is estimated there are about 5 million Catholics who are members of the Patriotic Association and 8 million who are part of the "Underground Church". There are a total of 24 seminaries which operate with government approval and another 10 seminaries that are part of the "Underground". Though a split exists, almost all of China’s Catholics are considered to be in communion with the Holy Father and roughly two-thirds of the bishops of the Patriotic Association are also recognized by the Holy See.

However, in various ways the "Underground Church" is persecuted. The faithful are regularly subjected to harassment, interrogation, and arrest. Last year fifty bishops and priests were imprisoned. One of them was Bishop Jia Zhi Guo who heads the Diocese of Zheng Ding, which is near the capital Beijing. He has spent twenty of his seventy years of life in prison and from 2004 to mid-2005 alone, he was arrested six times. Also last year, four bishops, one of whom was a member of the Patriotic Association, were invited to attend the Synod of Bishops which met in October. The government would not allow any of them to leave the country. However, Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong, which is not part of China’s mainland, was able to attend the Synod.

Shortly after his election, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his hope for peaceful relations between the Vatican and China so that the persecution would end and all Chinese Catholics could be reunited. Last month he made Bishop Zen of Hong Kong, the largest Chinese diocese with 243,866 Catholics, a Cardinal. Again, this was not well-received by the government because Cardinal Zen has spoken out numerous times for religious freedom. The Cardinal, however, said: “this appointment is a sign of the Pope’s goodwill and love for the whole of China.”

China is the largest country in the world and the growth of the Church in spite of persecution is a sign of the power of the Gospel. We pray with Pope Benedict this month that the Church’s mission to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people of China may be able to go forward. May there be full religious freedom in China and may diplomatic relations be restored between the Vatican and the government of China so that all Catholics may be able to come together in peace and fulfill their baptismal call to share their faith with others. We ask this through the intercession of the Chinese Martyrs whose blood is the seed of the faith.

That those seeking to adopt a child may have courage and success.

Posted by David at 11:23 PM  |  Comments (0)  | Link


Post a Comment